Merry Christmas everyone! Whilst scrolling through Twitter this week, all I would see is "All I want for Christmas is three points". Well this is exactly what the Royals delivered on a crisp Boxing Day.
Norwich were the visitors to the Madejski Stadium and made it hard work for the Royals in the first half. Yann Kermorgant returned to the starting line up and made it 1-0 shortly before the break with a glancing header on the end of a Liam Kelly free kick. Norwich equalised in the second half and applied plenty of pressure.
Shortly after, Norwich went down to 10 men after Jonny Howson was sent off for a great save to deny the Royals. Penalty awarded, Kermorgant stepped up and hit the bar, before Garath McCleary scored from the rebound. Callum Harriott secured three points in the final moments.
Jaap Stam was a happy many after the game, had a few things to say about our penalty form this season, he told the official club website,
"We're making a thing of it! We like to add a bit of tension for us all the bench!
"We deserved the penalty after the handball and Yann has great technique and usually he just hits it hard and the goalkeeper only feels it fly by, they don't even see it - he's got that much power in his kick.
"But he tried something different and thankfully scoring from penalties from the second ball is becoming a habit of ours. It was a great goal from Garath - but it's easier for everyone if the one who is taking the penalty scores first time!"
Norwich played well but things went downhill after their sending off, with fans getting on the back of manager Alex Neil, but it was a great encounter at the Madejski, Stam added:
"They started very aggressively and they pressed us high up the pitch to the extent that their back four were on the half way line. They weren't giving us any time to play in one v one situations and we need to use our pace more to get in behind them in the first half. But we didn't do that enough.
"The pitch didn't help us out in the possession play we want to focus on - you don't want to be focusing on your first touch, you want to be focusing to be the rest of the team and the opposition
"And we were playing against a good side. Being relegated from the Premier League and keeping their squad basically in tact, means they were going to make it difficult for us. We were playing against a top side with a lot of quality and you can't expect to dominate every single game and score and create a lot of chances against teams like Norwich.
"But we took the lead; Liam Kelly's free kick and Yann scoring with his head, something we've working on in training - we showed the players how we can be a threat from set pieces and it working out so that's good.
"And although they didn't have many clear cut chances, they got into the box and posed a threat. And they got the equalised. But when we got that second one and they went down to tend men, it made it a little easier to control the game.
"If you can't play it out from the back, you have to find a different way and at half-time we talking about taking the gamble of being a bit more direct, with runners in behind.
"The game opened up and the spaces got bigger and bigger and we scored that second, we had opportunities for more, and they needed a result too so they kept pushing too.
"But Callum scored a great third and that was that. We worked very hard in getting that result. We didn't play our best football, and they made it very difficult for us, but the result for us was a very good one."
The Royals are back at home on Friday evening facing Fulham, just weeks after our disappointing defeat. The boys will be looking for pay back.
"We played very badly when we played over there. They played very well. We played with ten men for some of it and they had a big win. I think the players are very aware of what they need to do on Friday!"